MEDIA RELEASE: Time for Australian solidarity on the Sustainable Development Goals to avoid harmful legacy

Leaders of a national summit being held in Melbourne today have called for collective action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to avoid a legacy of inequality and environmental degradation for the next generation of Australians.

Meeting at the MCG today, 300 of Australia’s leading advocates for sustainable development from Government, business, academia and civil society will examine Australia’s performance on the SDGs and look at how their implementation can be improved.

Speaking ahead of the summit at the MCG, Co-Chair of the Summit and Monash University Professor, John Thwaites, said:

“Sustainable development doesn’t just ‘happen’ or is the responsibility of someone else, somewhere else. It requires everyone to make a global effort and Australia needs to play its part. We will be leaving the next generation our problems unless we address the SDGs – uncertain jobs, unaffordable housing and a degraded environment.

“The SDGs provide the framework for collective action to tackle our biggest challenges which no single sector can address alone, like climate change, inequality and sustainable growth. This summit gives us the opportunity to share innovative practice from across Australia and build the partnerships we need to fulfil the SDGs.”

The second national summit is being held at a pivotal time ahead of Australia’s first Voluntary National Review on the SDGs which will be delivered to the UN in July and a Senate inquiry on the SDGs which will report in November.

Co-Chair of the Summit, Sam Mostyn, said:

“The Voluntary National Review and the Senate inquiry are catalysts for accelerating Australia’s implementation of the SDGs. They provide the chance to review our progress, look at our successes and failures and raise public awareness of the SDGs.

“This summit will lift the level of debate on Australia’s SDG performance and identify collective priorities where we can go beyond ‘business as usual’. It’s a great opportunity to coordinate action on the SDGs within Government with the actions in business and the broader community.”

In a statement to the summit, co-chairs John Thwaites and Sam Mostyn, identified the environment amongst areas for improvement for Australia in delivering against the SDGs.

“Despite our generally strong economic and social performance, Australia is performing poorly on many of the environmental goals and targets…Australia is not taking the action needed if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and our greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be even higher in 2030 than in 2000. We need a transformation in our industries, cities and agriculture in order to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation if we are to meet the 2030 SDG targets.”

The chairs stated that Australian action on the SDGs had “not been sufficient”, highlighting inequality as another area of concern.

“Australia has enjoyed an extraordinarily long period of uninterrupted economic growth and is one of the healthiest and best educated nations in the world. Yet inequality remains pervasive and we are not achieving the goal of improving income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a faster rate than the national average.”

Following on from the successful Australian SDGs Summit in September 2016, Australia’s first high-level multi-stakeholder forum to advance national implementation of the SDGs, the Australian Council for International Development, Australian Council of Social Service, Global Compact Network Australia, SDSN Australia/Pacific and United Nations Association of Australia have come together to organise a second Summit in 2018.

The Summit will begin with a welcome from the co-chairs and a Ministerial address from the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.


Further Information

Read the co-chairs statement in full here.

Media Contact

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